Advances in Gardening: The Trough of Garlic

Remember a while back I posted a picture of Erik in a manly pose, whomping our patio with his sledgehammer? He took out a strip of concrete and built this over the hole: a new planting bed.  That’s the Germinator on the right, butting up to it and my Fan behind it.  When we’re done with all this redoing, we’ll clean everything up and take some wider shots so it all begins to make sense. For now–believe me–it’...

Continue reading…

Make that 11 Vegetable Gardening Mistakes

In my post, Top Ten Vegetable Gardening Mistakes, several readers and Mrs. Homegrown pointed out that I left out “inconsistent watering.” I plead guilty. I would also suggest an “absentminded” watering category, such as setting up a irrigation system on a timer and not adjusting it throughout the season. And those of us in dry climates could also be better about selecting and saving seeds for drought t...

Continue reading…

Root Simple Edible Gardening Classes at the Huntington Ranch

There are still some spots available for our edible gardening class at the Huntington that starts this Saturday. In the course of the three consecutive Saturday sessions, we’ll build a compost pile, dissect soil test reports, make a seed starting mix and discuss incorporating fruit trees and native plants into your edible landscape among many other topics. The class will be held at the Huntington’s spectacular Ranch. Here’s th...

Continue reading…

Vegetable Gardening in the Shade

New Zealand spinach in partial shade Inspired by Scott Kleinrock’s work at the Huntington Ranch, I’ve been experimenting with growing vegetables in partial shade. Two of our vegetable beds sit under two large deciduous trees. In the winter these beds get full sun, but in the summer they might get as a little as four or five hours of direct sun. Now my shade gardening experiment may not be applicable to northern climates. In...

Continue reading…

Organic Gardening Magazine Tests Seven Different Potato Growing Methods

Doug Hall, writing for Organic Gardening magazine, did a test of seven different potato growing methods: hilled rows, straw mulch, raised beds, grow bags, garbage bags, wood boxes and wire cylinders. His conclusion? Raised beds worked the best giving the highest yield. Some of the other methods worked well too, though I wonder about black materials, such as grow bags, in our hot climate. The last time we grew potatoes we used a stack of tires....

Continue reading…

Ordo Ab Chao

...the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders turned into gardening advice.Got attention deficit disorder? Well, here’s how ya mix up your own potting mix. Face it, we’re all in the diagnostic manual somewhere. I suffer from a chronic lack of organizational ability. Square foot gardening has never worked for me–I just can’t keep up with the schedule. For some folks, I&...

Continue reading…

Advances in Gardening Series: The Fan

Yet another heat wave slowed our backyard redesign project, but the weather is looking more cooperative at last and things are coming along. What we thought we might do over the next few days is share some of the new things we’ve put in, and how/why we built them, just in case any of it might be useful to you. Everything is pretty rough and ragged right now, but it will be fun to report back in a couple months and do a compare/contrast. T...

Continue reading…

Advances in Gardening: Introducing the Germinator™

I’ve built a kind of seedling Guantanamo which I’ve dubbed the “Germinator™.” Why? Two reasons: 1. Damn squirrels and chickens. Both have gotten into my seedling flats in the past and wreaked havoc. This is why the Germinator™, for most of the year, has a wire mesh top. That wire mesh also takes down the harsh Southern California sun a notch so the flats don’t dry out. 2. During the cooler spring season, I can tra...

Continue reading…

Advances in Gardening: The Screens of Discretion

When our friend Tara helped us reconceptualize our back yard, one of the first things she did was wave toward our compost pile and chicken supply zone, and say, “You’ve got to screen off all that crap.” Of course! We had to take control of the view. Ahhhhh….. So Erik built this screen. He started using a pre-made trellis material, but tricked it up.  Behind it you can see the massive compost pile. The structure on the le...

Continue reading…

Advances in Gardening Series: We’re maturing

November–seedlings new planted January–all the foliage is in End of February–the flowers really start to pop Stuff grows. You just gotta remember to plant it! A quick photo update on progress for the Phan of Pharmacy and the Hippie Heart, mostly for our own record keeping. Maybe it will inspire those of you surrounded by rain or snow with dreams of your own spring planting. Back in November, I clear...

Continue reading…